These are the BEST Pork Carnitas (Slow Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork) you will ever try! Or so say all the reviews!
Your search for the Best Pork Carnitas Recipe stops here. These Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas are super juicy, easy and so much more flavorful than other versions complete with glorious caramelized crispy burnt ends! They are great for large crowds or make ahead meals and makes the best tacos, burritos, nachos, salads, etc.
Pork Carnitas Recipe Video
Pork Carnitas!!! Whenever Patrick and I frequent Mexican restaurants here in San Diego (or more accurately hole in the wall joints – the best), one of us usually ends up with Pork Carnitas Street Tacos. The crazy tender juicy pork shoulder with addictively crispy edges is hard to beat. And now we can all devour them at home!
Carnitas are more mild in flavor than my intensely flavored Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef which make them incredibly versatile for anything and everything you want to make with them and go pair fabulously with my Homemade Salsa Recipe, Salsa Verde and Pico de Gallo! They also make a fabulous base if you want to “get saucy” and stir in some enchilada sauce, salsa and a touch of brown sugar at the end of cooking. But more than likely, you are going to want to devour these Crockpot Carnitas just. the. way. they. are.
What are Carnitas?
While Carnitas are traditionally made by simmering large chunks of seasoned pork in hot lard on the stove top then coarsely chopping to achieve the name Carnitas, translated as “little meats,” virtually the same result can be achieved in the slow cooker then baking and broiling the meat once shredded to achieve the crunchy bits. Some might call this method blasphemy, but I call it easy, smart, healthier, and absolutely scrumdiddlyumptious. Your family and friends will thank you for making this Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas recipe again and again – think easy taco bar!
How to Make Pork Carnitas
To make these restaurant quality Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas, first you sear the pork to seal in the juices, and caramelize the sugars in the meat. I also like to leave my pork in one large piece instead of chopping it smaller because the inside of the meat stays extra moist – not to mention its much easier to sear!
Next, (once cool enough to handle), massage it with a wet spice rub of hand picked Mexican Spices as well as tomato paste, soy sauce and brown sugar. This Wet Spice Rub really sets this Carnitas Recipe apart from other versions as it infuses the meat with flavor (but not too much flavor), so it is eat-plain-delectable. Now it might seem a little counter intuitive to rub the meat with the Spice Rub after you sear it, but because this rub contains brown sugar, it can easily burn and blacken when seared. The Spices will still penetrate the meat, as it simmers in the bath of orange juice, lime juice, onions, garlic, jalapenos and liquid smoke for truly glorious Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas. The aforementioned liquid smoke also adds an undeniably smoky flavor that makes these Carnitas taste truly authentic.
After your meat has cooked on LOW for 8-10 hours or on HIGH for 5-6 hours, its time get those edges nice and crispy! Please don’t skip this step otherwise you just have Slow Cooker Mexican Pork but NOT Pork Carnitas!
How to Get Crispy Carnitas the Easy Way
There are a few schools of thought when it comes to getting the edges crispy. Some people fry up their shredded pork on the stove, which, while delicious, is more labor intensive and takes way too many batches for so much pork. I prefer the oven method. Simply line 2 baking sheets with foil, spread out your shredded pork, drizzle with some of the leftover seasoned slow cooking juices that are bursting with flavor and bake for 20 minutes. At this point your pork will start to crisp up in a few places but to finish it off, broil it to desired crispiness for an extra 5-10 minutes then drizzle with more scrumptious juices so it’s crispy AND juicy.
Pile your Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas high…
And either wrap in a warm tortilla smothered with your favorite toppings or pack on a plate with or stuff in ridiculously delicious Cheesy BBQ Pork Taquitos and savor the beauty of Carnitas without standing in front of a stove all day. It’s a beautiful thing.
What Should I serve with Carnitas?
Choose your favorite toppings and sides to transform these already fabulous carnitas into an epic meal!
- Sour Cream
- pico de gallo
- Salsa verde
- Homemade Salsa
- Cilantro Lime Rice
- Mexican Rice
- Black beans (or any beans!)
- Corn Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing
- Grilled Corn Salad with Chipotle Lime Butter
- Perfect Fruit Salad
- Southwest Salad with Creamy Avocado Salsa Dressing
- Southwest Orzo Salad with Chipotle Honey Lime Vinaigrette
- Pina Colada Fruit Salad
- Grilled Pineapple with Brown Sugar Orange Glaze
- Mexican Street Fries with Salsa Ketchup
- and top it all of with Churros!
Looking for more Pork Recipes?
- Slow Cooker Asian Caramel Pulled Pork
- Chipotle Sweet Pulled Pork
- Tacos Al Pastor
- Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork
- Slow Cooker Pineapple Salsa Pork
- Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sloppy Joes
- Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Pork coming soon
If you love Mexican food, you will also love these reader favorites Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken, Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas, Chili Lime Chicken Tacos, Southwest Salad, Blackened Fish Tacos, Cheesy Taco Soup, Chicken Fajitas, Baja Fish Tacos, Cilantro Lime Rice, and Smothered Chicken Burritos.
Want to try these Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas?
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*Try using leftovers in these amazing Cheesy BBQ Pork Taquitos!
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